Define and agree:
- project objectives (what you want to achieve), and
- the scope of the project (the boundaries of your task).
We recommend using the acronym 'SMART' when you develop your project objectives and thus ensure that you have the best chance of success:
- Specific: The objective must be clear and unambiguous with only one interpretation. For example 'The average customer wait time should not exceed 10 minutes.' is specific and easily understood.
- Measurable: The objective should be measurable so that project success can be quantified. If we were looking at customer wait times, then we would collect data over a specified period, average the data, and compare it with the 10 minute goal.
- Achievable (and Agreed) = It must be possible to achieve the objective. There is nothing more frustrating than an objective that is unachievable. If our customer is waiting for a fresh food order that takes more than 10 minutes to prepare, we will never succeed.
- Relevant (and Resourced) = The team should have the appropriate people, skills, materials, and/or equipment to carry out the task. If it doesn't you may need to decline the project, turn it over to another team, or bring in the necessary expertise.
- Timed = A date has been set for completion of the task. With the customer wait time, perhaps we have a staged response: 2 weeks to research current operations, 2 weeks to produce strategies to reduce wait time, 3 weeks to implement and troubleshoot new procedures, and a final week to evaluate if the objective has been achieved. This would mean that overall our completion date is in 8 weeks time.
The project scope defines what your team will be doing and what you believe others should do. It should be very clear. For example, if my team are to build a house for a property developer, our scope may not include plumbing, electrical fitting, connection to services, landscaping, and painting and decorating. Instead our scope includes initial earthworks, and all structures.